Andre Vondran

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Agile, not such a good idea after all

Agile, hot buzzword that software vendors and system integrators are using.

Why Agile sounds good, but more importantly why agile is a terrible idea as it relates to your ERP implementation.

So first of all let's start with the reasons why agile so appealing

#1 Agile is it's what software developers use oftentimes to rate their software.

It is a very common methodology for developing software.

Moreover, it is quite effective, for better or for worse the IT Community is driven largely by software developers therefore; it is now permeating into implementation methodologies.

#2 The reason why Agile is so appealing to organisations about to go through these types of transformations is that it takes care of that problem that we've had for the last 20 years, or at least we think it takes care of the problem around big expensive ERP Implementation.

When we think about Agile, we think clean, nimble, small; we believe is cost reducing…

The thing is that everyone needs an “Escape Go” when something goes wrong.

In the IT community, historically, was Waterfall, the traditional way of creating and rolling Out ERP Software.

Some Genius may have thought that if we change the Methodology approach all our problems would have been gone for good. However, keep in mind that Agile is less sequential. More parallel.

With Agile, we tent to get something up and running, Tested Out, build out and roll out.

Whereas Waterfall we look at whole picture, we define requirements in detail, sequentially.

We have formal assignment of stages.

Two Different approaches indeed.

Keep in mind that we are NOT developing Software. Therefore, the key flaw is the assumption Agile can help.

Agile is quite handy at Software Developing, however, we are doing Software Implementation.

We are deploying Commercial from the shelf.

Agile misses the word enterprise within ERP.

So when we think about what ERP stands for, the appeal we figure out, how we can improve our process.

In order to leverage technology with an agile approach we are not looking at the big picture.

Instead, we are looking at bits and pieces of the organization, which quite frankly is the reason many companies got into the mess in the first place.

They took bits and pieces of technologies over 10, 20, 30 years, now they are looking at their system landscape saying we have a complete isolate approach.

No single source of truth within data, systems do not talk to each other, no standardization. "We want to be on one single platform."

Therefore, if the goal is to move on one single platform or single set of file platforms, Agile does not support that.

Agile would say: “Let's pick off a little part of your organization like finance”. Inventory management, Analytics, CRM, whatever it is and where to focus on that piece of it.

Keep in mind about what drives trends in the industry - and I feel very strongly about this - big part of what makes the industry around is money. Where are we gonna make the most money?

If I'm a software vendor or system integrator - or Both - I'm gonna make money by getting my foot in the door.

Agile is a great excuse for me (as Vendor) to get my foot in the door.

Giving the vendors and system integrators a sales message:

That says you don't need to agree on what the enterprise is gonna look like

You don't even need to agree that our product is the best for your organization.

So let us just take an agile approach and let's just start with finance…

I know for example SAP talk about the digital core, just implement the digital core and that will be part of the solution.

Therefore, we have to recognize it for what it is, an excuse to get a foot in the door, and once a vendor has a foot in the door it's highly unlikely you're gonna switch at that point you're not going to switch from SAP to Oracle, Oracle to Microsoft Dynamics, whatever the case may be or at least it is very unlikely.

Another challenge and this is a controversial point - I warn U up front - Agile masks those flaws in today's cloud.

Let us go back to the digital core concept, when we talk about let's just implement finance.

Let’s just implement inventory management , part of what we are doing as software vendors - again - , were not a software vendor by the way!

Software Vendors are trying to get a foot in the door, trying to deploy some sort of footprint within our organization.

We’re gonna focus on what works best within the software.

Right now the maturity of cloud ERP systems could be better, there is a lack of maturity with many of the leading ERP systems that are coming out now that most of the vendors are rolling over to I've on the cloud platform, for example 4 Hana on the SAP side, Oracle cloud are not as mature as those legacy products that each of the vendors had 10, 20, 30 years ago.

The reason that is important is because the products in many cases aren't fully baked. There’s a lot of functionality - Especially around the edges - that are missing. We’re seeing a lot of clients struggle with that right now, we’re helping them navigate these flaws in the deficiencies.

Vendors are not gonna exposed that! Vendors lead in trying to sell you on those deficiencies!

· Again, it goes back agile - Vendors frame it as an agile solution, where you are just implementing the core.

Vendors will figure this other stuff out as we go and hopefully by the time you implement the core, Vendors are ready for the next phase.

In addition, will have figured out what the software really is around the Edge in order to be able to start implementing.

That is a big part of what Agile is actually doing, masking some of the flaws with the ERP systems that are out there in the industry.

Another thing that agile masks - which is the final point - we need to go with an agile approach because we are at a point where we want to take a bite size chunk out of our system. Out of our overall enterprise system portfolio…

Chances are we're doing that because we can't get alignment from the rest of the organization on a platform or direction for what we're gonna do enterprise wide.

If we go with Agile and just focus on the finance guys and gals and get them to commit to our product, let’s not worry about sales and warehouse and planning people and all those types HR, HCM. Let’s just focus and pick off on one part of the organization similar to getting our foot in the door for a vendor but this is different because now what we're doing is we’re also masking the problem, which is a root cause of ERP failure, which is misaligned.

Misaligned organizations generally do not do well. If they don't figure out how to get aligned behind a certain set of operational business models, operating models, organizational models prior to or at the very least as you are implementing new technology, that technology initiative is not going to go well.

Another reason why I think Agile is so dangerous is that it sounds so good…. It is what we want to hear. It is fixing problems or we think it is fixing problems from the past, but in reality it's not what it’s doing, is it's creating other issues.

It is masking issues. Creating self-interest incentives for the vendors.

I’m not saying we never want to use Agile in our implementation approaches.

Nevertheless, I say be very selective.

I certainly would not recommend baking it into standard methodologies as SAP/Oracle/Microsoft as the leading ERP vendors have. We have to look at is that the right approach for us and what of what strategy we want to take an Agile may or may not be the right answer there.

Now, one of the really important point of clarification close out is it casual Agile-ish type of approaches can be very effective as it relates to the actual rollout of software.

So once, we have defined our business blueprint, we have defined what we want to be when we grow up from our operational perspective, and then we can start rolling out any incremental phases.

Take somewhat of an agile approach to how we roll out the technology, however, we do that in the context of an overarching clear strategy.

Very aligned rather than starting at the bottom with agile and just, start rolling out technology. That is the wrong way to do it.

The opposite way you want to be doing it, so we want to start with the overarching strategy and work our way down from there and then as rolling out technology

André Vondran

Software Architecture & Implementation

Agile, not such a good idea after all

Best Regards · Mit freundlichem Gruß · Cordialmente · 

André Vondran
Think Green! Please don’t print if it’s not necessary.
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